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Minimising the Impact of Summer Olympics 2012

As The London 2012 Olympics draws closer, organisations both in and outside of London should be preparing for the uniqueworkplace challenges that such a mega-event, on top of Queen Elizabeths 60th Jubilee, the Para Olympics and other summer events, will present.

The most likely disruptions will come from three effects:
• Employees wanting to attend or watch key events, creating an increased demand for leave in the period of the games (Olympics and Paralympics)
• Customers, prospects, partners and suppliers having staff on leave, potentially postponing projects and/or decisions
• Traffic disruption due to increased number of visitors and travel to and from events.

In addition, traffic disruptions, safety concerns and increased terrorism threats may augment stress for many workers in proximity of an Olympic hosting venue.

There are a number of approaches and resources available that organisations can use to help plan and minimise the disruption to their business. The London 2012 Organising Committee provides free planning information for businesses online here

Business continuity experts suggest that planning for the impact of the Olympics should build on existing business continuity and crisis management arrangements. A review of what is currently in place and how it can be adapted is a good first step.

Secondly, experts advise conducting a quick analysis of your vulnerabilities as a business. For example, you will want to consider your proximity to key events, potential changes in demand for services/products during the Games, key tasks that need to be performed on a routine basis and critical infrastructure such as broadband and telecoms. From there, businesses should prioritise which operations are most critical or urgent and which could be stood down or deferred, as well as the minimal staffing requirements to maintain critical operations.

The pressure on staffing caused by the Olympics (in addition to other summer events in London) may raise a number of HR-related issues, particularly absenteeism and increased demand for leave during the Olympics. Existing HR-related policies may need to be adapted to allow more flexibility during the Games. Consider, for example:

• Flexible working arrangements such as work at home or other offices, different hours, etc.
• Requests for annual leave, absences
• Workplace activities related to the Games
• Time-off for people volunteering at Games
• Disciplinary actions

If your organisation is considering flexible working arrangements, it is important to ensure that any increase in homeworking is supported by appropriate IT, and that the internal systems and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been engaged in the planning process so that demands on the system can be understood and managed.

Another resource in planning and ensuring business continuity is your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). “A well-designed EAP will include crisis management services,” says Stuart Creasey, EMEA Sales & Account Services Manager for ComPsych, the world’s largest provider of Employee Assistance Programmes. “As you review your existing business continuity and crisis management plans, involve your EAP provider to review and refresh your existing protocol and procedures.”

“Communication is particularly important doing any period of disruption,” Creasey adds. “You will want to ensure staff knows where to get information and advice from, both in relation to the general situation, the organisation’s response, and available resources for staff, such as your EAP, as it relates to handling increased stress and personal safety.”

“At ComPsych, we’ve developed a Special Event Resource Guide that is available to our clients through GuidanceResources Online. The Guide includes up-to-date information on traffic disruptions, alternate routes, safety concerns and local resources for finding more information. Also available are help sheets and resources for handling stress and anxiety, and health and personal safety tips,” concludes Creasey. A sample of resources available in the Special Event Resource Guide can be accessed here 

Businesses and organisations that plan ahead for the impact of the Olympics and leverage their resources wisely will be more likely to minimise the severity of service disruption and loss of productivity.

Sources: London 2012 Games, Planning Information for Businesses, Mayfield Business Borum, Dominic Cockram, Steelendge Consulting Ltd.

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